RiversideHe designed 33 homes in Riverside, California, and the one acclaimed architect Robert Spurgeon Jr. built for his parents, Robert Sr. and Lillian, is now up for grabs.

Riverside, albeit landlocked in the Inland Empire, is actually an ideal second home location for a few factors — it’s an easy hour drive to the beach, and less than 45 minutes to Disneyland, for one. It’s also home to Fairmount Park, an urban oasis with a stocked pond that is a refuge to several species of birds — and designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park.

And back in the day (in fact, when we say “back in the day” in this case, we mean exactly around the time Spurgeon built this home), Riverside’s close proximity to Hollywood, along with all its interesting architecture, made it one of the frequent spots film studios would pick for the perfect scenery for their movies, including the 1919 film Boots, starring Dorothy Gish.

On days you don’t want to drive to the beach or Disneyland, there is still plenty to do closer to home. The California Citrus State Park (Riverside is believed to be the birthplace of California’s citrus industry) provides ranger-led tours, fruit tastings, and more.

You can also tour the historic Mission Inn, and hike up to Mount Rubidoux, and the University of California Riverside offers 39 acres of botanic gardens, plus several museums.

From left: Robert Spurgeon Sr., Lillian, granddaughter Gloria, daughter Grace, and Robert Spurgeon, Jr. Right: An early photo of the home Spurgeon designed for his parents (Photo courtesy Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery).

It was this town that the Spurgeon family ended up settling in, living before in Chicago, New York, and Denver. His parents moved there not long after the younger Sturgeon returned to the country after serving in World War II, to assist his sister after her husband died. He joined the rest of the family not long after that, eventually building homes and properties all over Riverside, including the employee homes for Pinkerton Detective heir Allan Pinkerton, the rebuilding of the Porter House, and the Elijah Parker House. (more…)

Mardi GrasOn a street lined historic homes, in a neighborhood full of historic homes, this week’s historical shelter may be small, but it’s also the antidote for any Mardi Gras FOMO you might be experiencing this year.

After all, if you’ve been flicking through photos of all the festivities going on right now, you might also be having a bit of internal conflict — how do you get close to all that fun, but not so close that you’re dealing the hustle and bustle of the New Orleans French Quarter?

The answer just might be in this 1919 Greek Revival building, where one of 10 units is up for sale for $299,500. Located at 1206 Chartres St., Unit 2 is the perfect pad for the occasional NOLA visitor, who wants more comfort and freedom than the usual hotel.

Courtesy of MardiGrasNewOrleans.com

And, bonus, it’s also on a few of the parade routes, but not every parade route.

The 509 square foot home is in the lower residential end of the Quarter, and is one of five Greek Revival buildings in the area that are considered architecturally significant, listing agent Wayne Wilkinson with French Quarter Realty said. (more…)

gold rushAlways a hotel, this week’s gold-rush era historical shelter in California also has its place in history as the location for an office and stage stop for an express company that ran mail across the country.

The site of the current Hotel Sutter, located in Sutter Creek, California, was first home to the American House Hotel, built in 1851. It served as a stop for Adams & Co., later Adams Express Company, which pre-dated Wells Fargo.

Sutters Mill

Sutter Creek is named after a local creek, which in turn got its name from a local prospector, John Sutter, who discovered gold nearby in 1848, triggering the California Gold Rush.  Sutter owned a sawmill where the mother lode was found, and after fortune hunters began trampling his land, he decided to prospect, too, moving to Sutter Creek to begin his own mining operation, using his servants to mine, something that drew the disapproval of the miners also working to find gold. Eventually, he returned to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento and never mined again.

By 1852, Sutter Creek had a post office. Two years later, it was a town. In 1913, it incorporated.

Over time, the town became a boomtown, moving from gold mining to quartz mining until 1942, when most of the gold mines were closed during the war.

In 1865, disaster struck the town of Sutter Creek when fire ravaged the business district, burning the American House Hotel to the ground. It was rebuilt, and went through several name changes — the American Exchange Hotel, the Belotti Inn, and now the Hotel Sutter.

And while gold mining doesn’t happen in Sutters Creek anymore, there are plenty of nearby wineries and breweries, restaurants, and shopping. And the area that was once known for gold is now known for having land perfect for growing grapes, making Amador County a go-to place for a more dressed-down wine country. (more…)

AmericanThere is just something about a Colonial and Early American era home that makes you want to pull out the David McCullough books and transport yourself back to the incredible point in time where a new nation was born.

And we’ve made no secret of our love of a well-preserved home from that era — we’ve written about the Green Hill House in Salem, Virginia; the Philadelphia home of Joseph Hopkinson; the Daniel Bliss Homestead in Rehoboth, Massachusetts; and the Samuel Jones house in Concord, Massachusetts.

This week’s historical shelter was built in 1672, and was home to Joseph Hosmer, who was a lieutenant at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. In fact, he acted as adjutant in the Battle of Concord, which happened the same day as the Battle of Lexington — April 19, 1775.

The Battle Of Concord, 1775

It was a date that is now pointed to as the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

“I really don’t have time to spare from our household chores to write in this Journal–and yet, I must, to calm my nerves and enable me to think clearly about these perilous times,” wrote Hosmer’s wife, Lucy the night before. “This I must surely do to help my husband, Joseph Hosmer, our four children, and our dear village of Concord. No shots have yet been fired but already we are a wartime community…Last night Joseph and I drove by ox team two wagon loads of ammunition from Acton to hide on Deacon Jonathan Hosmer’s farm there. His twenty-year-old son, Abner, is Joseph’s third cousin and an Acton Minuteman.” (more…)

Lost

This abandoned building was once the deputy sheriff’s office in Langtry, Texas, and is one of several photos photographer Bronson Dorsey captured in his quest to create the book Lost, Texas (photos courtesy Bronson Dorsey).

We make no secret about our love history here on SecondShelters.com, although the bulk of our attention tends to skew toward the adored, restored, and lovingly preserved.

But earlier this year, Texas photographer Bronson Dorsey’s book, Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings, brought to light another dimension of Texas history — the forgotten parts that were left to the march of time and elements.

“In many cases for the buildings and the towns in the book, the towns began to fail when younger people moved out for jobs in the city,” Dorsey told us during a phone chat. “And there was an economic base to support the businesses and towns in the beginning, thanks to the railroad often, but eventually, they got passed by the interstate.”

Dorsey’s book had its genesis in a drive from Big Bend to Austin in 2009, when he stopped in Langtry, Texas. (more…)

monte vistaWhen we found this week’s historical shelter, an English Domestic Revival home in the Monte Vista neighborhood of San Antonio, we immediately wanted to know more about one of the largest historic districts in the United States.

And we became even more intrigued when we found out that the district, which encompasses 100 city blocks in midtown San Antonio, had rather humble beginnings as a goat pasture.

According to historians, the Monte Vista neighborhood began as a development when, in 1889, real estate developers began eyeballing the land — which was being used for grazing land for goats, five miles north of downtown San Antonio.

Street by street, developers built homes, with different developers owning blocks at a time. The entire enclave was finished in the 1930s. At the time, Monte Vista would be considered one of San Antonio’s tonier Gilded Age suburbs, showcasing several styles of homes, including Classical Revival, Tudor, Spanish Eclectic, and Craftsman, built by names like Alfred Giles, Harvey Young, James Riely Gordon, and Atlee B. Ayres. (more…)

Miami ShoresWhen we look for historical shelters every week, we always find some beautiful homes with interesting stories — and that’s true this week as well, with the Simmons Estate in Miami Shores, Florida.

It’s always fun to go back and look at 1920s architecture — the era embraced luxury in a way that was potentially over the top, but so well crafted that to this day newer construction often attempts to emulate the grandeur.

And that’s true with 257 NE 91 St., a gorgeous Mediterranean built in 1925 and designed by the nationally-acclaimed architects Kiehnel and Elliot, whose work includes the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Carlyle Hotel in Miami Beach, and the downtown Miami Post Office. (more…)

schoolIn our quest to find the most interesting historical shelters, we fully admit to being suckers for a good school house conversion, and this example in the historic mining village of Hillsboro, New Mexico, does not disappoint.

The school was built in the 1800s, listing agent Crystal Lay with Steinborn & Associates Real Estate said, and it taught generations of elementary school students in the mining town.

More recently, it’s been beautifully renovated, and the sellers took pains to incorporate wonderful details into that renovation.

“The amazing original details including the interior tin roof tiles, the chalkboards, and the windows have been preserved and keep the authenticity of the school that is incorporated into the ample living space,” Lay said. (more…)